Eat Out: The 10 Best Outdoor Dining Experiences in Santa Barbara

In many places, electing to eat a meal outside can be fraught with peril. Outdoor dining in Alaska? Limited to just a few months a year, unless you really love snow. Al fresco lunch in Dallas? Probably not in June, when temperatures rise into the triple digits.

So where can you go to enjoy a delicious meal (or cocktail) on a sunny patio any month of the year? The answer is a pretty little town by the sea on California's Central Coast. That's right, Santa Barbara is the place to go when you want to enjoy an ocean view with your meal, without all that window nonsense. Boasting over 300 days of sunshine a year and a comfortable year-round temperature average, this town is paradise for outdoor diners of all stripes.

This list of the top 10 outdoor dining restaurants in Santa Barbara will show you exactly where to go to indulge in an impressive meal while seated in equally impressive surroundings. Whether you're looking for a table in the sand or a patio with a view of the harbor, this 10Best list is for you.

Try to visit all 10 during your stay and let us know which you like the best!

The Habit Burger Grill is a Santa Barbara-based hamburger chain that is truly a local favorite. From their signature smoky charburger to the albacore sandwich made from line-caught tuna to freshly tossed salads, the Habit serves up fresh food...  Read More

Scarlett Begonia
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

There is not enough space here to describe how truly scrumptious and utterly satisfying a meal at the Scarlett Begonia is. First, everything they serve is made in-house; from pastries to ketchup to pickles, it's all made just steps away in their...  Read More

Santa Barbara

The Brewhouse is a local brewpub and restaurant located in charming West Beach. A variety of beers are brewed in house; some favorites include apricot wheat, habanero pilsner and baseball saison. They have a full bar and serve a variety of great...  Read More

Sama Sama Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

Sama Sama Kitchen is a restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara that serves up satisfying, Indonesian-inspired dishes and cocktails for brunch and dinner. Exotic flavors like anise, cumin and starfruit are common here. There are classic dishes, like...  Read More

The Lark
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

The Lark is a large, visually-impressive restaurant located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. The menu here celebrates Central Coast fare, from fruits and vegetables to meats and wines. Food is intended for sharing and served...  Read More

Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this. At the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, you can pick your lunch right out of the tanks. Established in 1980, this restaurant began as a shellfish shop before popular demand (and secret family recipes)...  Read More

Santa Barbara

The Boathouse is a Santa Barbara seafood restaurant with the best location in town... it's right on the beach. Tucked away in a quiet part of town and facing Hendry's beach, this is a great place to go for a romantic date, family dinner or...  Read More

Lively and animated, this Mexican restaurant is one of Santa Barbara's finest, thanks to homemade fare and fruit-tinged margaritas. The fun outdoor patio is also a draw, right at the pretty end of downtown Santa Barbara. Much of the food looks...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Paradise Cafe

Whether you're on vacation or just pretending you're on vacation, sometimes you all you want is a nice, relaxing lunch. Preferably in the sun, definitely with fresh regional fare, and perhaps accompanied by a sophisticated adult beverage, like a...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Brophy Bros.

Unbeatable harbor views issue a siren's call to patrons at this popular restaurant. Of course, their menu full of delicious seafood doesn't hurt business either. Bustling and busy, Brophy Bros. serves up some of the city's most coveted clam...  Read More


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva

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